Kevin Durant at Rucker Park long versionKevin Durant at Rucker Park short version
I think the word crazy best describes the scene at Rucker Park on Monday night when Kevin Durant decided to show up for a pick up game and went off for sixty-six points. I watched various clips of the game on Youtube multiple times and each time the video concluded I had a smile on my face. The whole situation was outrageous and over the top but it was great stuff. By this time, the footage of the game has been broken down, discussed, commentated on, praised, satirized, etc. by pretty much every sports outlet in the nation so to say I have anything that new to add to the discussion might not be accurate. But I do want to throw out a few thoughts.
Let’s talk about the magical. There is just something very appealing and mystical about an NBA superstar showing up at night to an outdoor court surrounded by trees and buildings in the inner city to play some hoop. Throw in an energized standing room only crowd that is amped up to the max and right away you know it is going to be a special experience.
Let’s talk about the performance. Kevin Durant scored 66 points. Granted there was only one other NBA caliber player besides Durant on the court(John Wall III), but it was still impressive. I must admit that I do not know how long the game was, but I know it probably wasn’t a 48 minute NBA length game. It is not like Durant just scored either. He was playing great defense, making steals, and pulling down rebounds. He did not just show up at Rucker Park to cherry pick and throw down sick dunks, he was there to play an all-around game and I think that is pretty cool.
Let’s talk about the implications. It would seem that no good could come out of a situation like Rucker Park if you are an NBA superstar. I mean, you are supposed to dominate against a bunch of street ballers, right? But where would that leave you if you did not perform well? The guy was playing on a very unique court he had never played on and he was playing a whole different brand of basketball against guys who are absolutely hungry to prove that they can hang with a member of basketball’s elite. Remember a couple years ago when Lebron James was supposedly swatted in a pick up game at one of his camps by a college kid? That was talked about for a long time. Luckily, they were able to keep the tape from coming out. With all of the cameras at Rucker Park, if KD was embarrassed just on one play, it would have went maybe even more viral than the video of him dominating. And of course there is the injury question. I personally think he put himself at an unnecessary risk playing in that game. Regardless of if there is going to be an NBA season or not protect yourself and protect your career.
Let’s talk about the ridiculous. That game was nothing short of a circus type atmosphere. I wonder what Kevin Durant was thinking when he was standing in the lay up line for pregame warm ups and he has little kids walking up to him asking for his autograph? He had to of been shifting his eyes around looking for some type of security presence to take care of the issue. How about the overflow of fans? Forget about balls going out of bounds, you had fans standing right up to the out of bounds line all around the court. In many cases, fans were actually standing on the court. Any ball that would be destined to go out of bounds in any other venue in the country would have simply just hit off of fans at Rucker Park and went right back into play. The reaction of the fans, both by voice and by outward affection toward Durant, was pretty crazy as well. I don’t know how many times Durant did something cool and then in unison the whole crowd would let out a big “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” Of course the fact that the fans were allowed to mob Durant over and over again while the game was still going on was outrageous. I can see the case for mobbing a player after he makes a game winning shot or after he has just turned in a record-breaking, amazing performance…ONCE THE GAME IS OVER. To do it three different times in the span of about one minute is stupid. Where was the security in the yellow shirts for all of those instances? If I was the other team, I would have gone “Stanford Band” style and just played on while the fans stormed the court. Pass the ball in and go score while there is chaos going on and the best defender on the court is surrounded by crazy people.
Let’s still talk about the ridiculous. I just needed another paragraph to talk about this one. That on-court announcer was a joke and a half. I wonder how much he gets paid? If he gets any type of a check I say that is highway robbery. Any person can stand on the court and act like an idiot while repeating the same thing over and over and over again. How many times did he say “I am…I am….I am….I am”? We get the idea when you tell us how many points Durant has, you do not need to keep reiterating it, we know the total is not going to change until he makes another bucket, i.e., “He has sixty. He has sixty. He has sixty.” We get it. Also, there are enough non-players already getting in the faces of the athletes when they turn in a great play, we don’t need the on-court announcer doing it too. After Durant did that sick dunk where he fell down afterwards the announcer got right up into his grill and started hopping around. Take it easy dude. I thought his outfit was the most crazy part of his whole schtick/routine though. Who died and gave him a big championship belt to wear? Do you really need to wear sunglasses? You know it is night, right? What about the towel you are carrying around? Are you just carrying it around to carry it around or do you really sweat that much just from repeating short phrases over and over? Might want to go see a doctor
Okay, I kind of made fun of the video towards the end of this post but I do recognize that it was pretty cool and that a lot of people were drawn to it. There is a real market out there for alternative types of basketball. With the NBA destined to have its season canceled and with the decline of the quality of college basketball, maybe even more people will get their basketball fixes through unconventional means. Perhaps more people will start to crave this street ball, maybe there will be a resurgence of the And One tour, there might be a Slam Ball comeback. As a person who has paid money to watch And One when they came to Spokane a few years back and as someone who has seen the Globetrotters play in person no less than four times, I know I would gravitate towards it. Just please leave the on-court announcers behind. Don’t Blink.